Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

14 November 2012 – Most of us expect Brazil to crown the F1 World Champion for the first time since 2009, but Texas could storm back onto the scene with a title-clinching moment for Sebastian Vettel. If he wins Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fifth or lower, the crown heads to Heppenheim for a third successive year…

Red Bull has already failed to clinch the constructors’ title at the first possible point, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago. Having said that, it was just about the only thing Red Bull have failed to do lately. The chances are now extremely low that they will not wrap up that honour this weekend, which in my opinion should be viewed as a major displeasure for McLaren; this really was their finest chance to take the spoils for the first time since 1998. For one reason or another, they’ve blown it.

Two to go: Vettel VS Alonso
The drivers’ battle is less clear cut, but facts are facts. One fact is that only Vettel or Alonso can now win this championship. That also means that whoever wins becomes a triple Formula 1 World Champion. Another is, if it is to be Alonso, Brazil is the only place where it can happen for him – just as it did back in 2005 and 2006. On the contrary, Vettel would have collected his titles in a trio of very different countries.

Vettel has a ten-point advantage after his equally superlative drive of Abu Dhabi. Many argue it was only because of the Safety Cars. Yes, they certainly helped, but let us not forget that he was again at the back of the field at the first restart. So really the second Safety Car was the big help and the first was effectively null and void. As for Alonso, just how many times will that man leave us astounded this season? He has to be my driver of the year, but the Red Bull RB8 is dominant when it comes to the car.

Don’t be fooled by the ten-point margin. You score that amount for a fifth place finish, so that translates to just two or four points under the previous two scoring systems which were replaced after the 2002 and 2009 campaigns. There’s nothing in it. To remind you, the current system is: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With that in mind, here is how Vettel can claim Germany’s tenth F1 title in Texas:
- By winning the race with Alonso fifth or lower
- By finishing second with Alonso ninth or lower
- By finishing third with Alonso 11th or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to retain even the slightest of chances heading to Brazil, Alonso must score a point if Vettel is to finish third in America - and he must finish eighth if Vettel is to come home second. If Vettel wins the race, which one would imagine is quite possible, then Alonso has to be fourth or better to keep his chances alive – and, even then, things would still be extremely difficult a week later.

For the reasons explained above, it is my personal belief that this title really is now Vettel’s to lose. Furthermore, I have said all season long that the rest of the pack have been on borrowed time while Red Bull made up for the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser which allowed Vettel to dominate last year. McLaren have made too many mistakes and suffered from unreliability. Mercedes steered in the wrong direction with Super DRS and had an even greater lack of reliability. Lotus threatened mid-season but, ultimately, their ‘device’ proved too sensitive to make the most of at all circuits. As for Ferrari…well, the honest truth is that – although Alonso has driven better than ever, and indeed better than anybody for many years – the car was, quite simply, never quick enough. It certainly looked promising over the European summer but, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, his British and German pole positions only came because of adverse weather conditions.

All is not lost for Alonso, though. Anything really can still happen – just look at the final moments of 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2008 to name just four. Rain could affect proceedings (especially in Brazil), Vettel could lose a front wing up against a back-marker or perhaps Red Bull will fumble a pit-stop. These things might not happen too often, but they do happen and for those reasons Alonso must be in position to take advantage. If these things do not occur and the weather remains dry, you should probably expect Vettel pole positions and two clean drives to victory. The Ferrari may only qualify fifth, sixth or seventh and that always leaves a driver in the danger zone at the start…you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out and just look at what happened in Japan. On top of this, Red Bull was testing in Abu Dhabi last week whereas Ferrari elected to have their Young Driver run earlier in the year; you would therefore expect the pace deficit to be even bigger, if the updates work as planned.

So, in short, we can’t predict exactly how Vettel might win his third World Championship but – taking all things into account – the odds are certainly in his favour. At the start of 2012 I predicted that Lewis Hamilton would be the only man who could beat Sebastian Vettel this season. Hands up – I got that wrong. But what was right is the fact that Vettel, Adrian Newey and Red Bull have by far the best handle on the current set of Technical Regulations. It will be difficult for Alonso…

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Circuit of the Americas
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laps 56

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 20

Length 5.516 km / 3.427 mi

Local start time 1pm (GMT -6)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Hard (silver markings) & Medium (white markings)

DRS zone
Back straight, between Turns 11 and 12
- Activation to be approximately 650 metres before Turn 12

FIA driver steward
Emerson Fittipaldi
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Tuesday 21 April 2015

  2. Video of the Day: Ecclestone on Formula 1 05:34

    Video of the Day: Ecclestone on Formula 1

    F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone discusses the current state of the sport with the BBC F1's Eddie Jordan.

    F1
  3. Monday 20 April 2015

  4. 17:03

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  5. Bahrain Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 16:32

    Bahrain Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Lewis Hamilton claimed his third win of the year while Kimi Räikkönen took advantage of Nico Rosberg's late brake issue to…

    F1
  6. Manor Marussia 'proud' of flyaway efforts 13:18

    Manor Marussia 'proud' of flyaway efforts

    Manor Marussia team boss John Booth says the outfit can feel "justifiably proud" of its efforts over the opening four flyaway…

    F1
  7. Video: Ricciardo's Renault engine gives up 11:36

    Video: Ricciardo's Renault engine gives up

    Daniel Ricciardo's Renault engine gives up in dramatic fashion at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    F1
  8. Ricciardo onto fourth engine after failure 11:32

    Ricciardo onto fourth engine after failure

    Daniel Ricciardo will move onto his fourth power unit at next month's Spanish Grand Prix, after his dramatic final lap failure…

    F1
  9. Rossi wanted longer fight with Márquez 10:12

    Rossi wanted longer fight with Márquez

    Valentino Rossi says he was disappointed not to take his battle for victory with Marc Márquez in Argentina onto the final lap…

    MotoGP
  10. Arrivabene: Räikkönen back on form 09:42

    Arrivabene: Räikkönen back on form

    Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene declared that Kimi Räikkönen is officially back on form after his Bahrain Grand Prix…

    F1
  11. Pérez hails 'one of my best races' 09:12

    Pérez hails 'one of my best races'

    Sergio Pérez reckons he drove one of the best races of his Formula 1 career en route to a points finish in the Bahrain Grand…

    F1
  12. Video of the Day: Grosjean in the kitchen 05:22

    Video of the Day: Grosjean in the kitchen

    Romain Grosjean joins Lotus chef Max Portioli in the team's kitchen at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    F1
  13. 01:26

    Championship standings after Bahrain

    F1
  14. Sunday 19 April 2015

  15. Dixon jumps Castroneves to win Long Beach 23:33

    Dixon jumps Castroneves to win Long Beach

    Scott Dixon comfortably won a fast-paced Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, helping his championship aspirations after…

    Indy
  16. 21:46

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Sakhir

    F1
  17. Vettel admits being unable to find rhythm 21:37

    Vettel admits being unable to find rhythm

    Sebastian Vettel says he wasn't able to find a good rhythm as he made several errors on his way to fifth place at the Bahrain…

    F1
  18. 21:25

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Río Hondo

    MotoGP
  19. Alonso encouraged after achieving objective 21:20

    Alonso encouraged after achieving objective

    McLaren driver Fernando Alonso says he was satisfied to achieve his pre-race objective by finishing the Bahrain Grand Prix…

    F1
  20. Rossi wins as Márquez crashes out 20:44

    Rossi wins as Márquez crashes out

    Championship leader Valentino Rossi claimed his second victory of the season in Argentina after a dramatic finale in which Marc…

    MotoGP
  21. Bottas pleased to fend off Vettel 19:56

    Bottas pleased to fend off Vettel

    Valtteri Bottas was pleased with his efforts after keeping Sebastian Vettel at bay during the closing stages of the Bahrain…

    F1
  22. Räikkönen left with mixed feelings 19:17

    Räikkönen left with mixed feelings

    Kimi Räikkönen was left to ponder what might have been after narrowly missing out on victory in Sunday's Bahrain Grand…

    F1
  23. Hamilton urges Mercedes to 'keep pushing' 19:08

    Hamilton urges Mercedes to 'keep pushing'

    Lewis Hamilton has urged Mercedes to "keep pushing" with development after another strong Ferrari performance in…

    F1
  24. 17:48

    In full: Bahrain Grand Prix race result

    F1
  25. Hamilton wins ahead of Räikkönen in Bahrain 17:46

    Hamilton wins ahead of Räikkönen in Bahrain

    Lewis Hamilton took his third win of the season with a commanding drive at the Bahrain Grand Prix, while Ferrari's Kimi…

    F1
  26. 15:46

    Follow the Bahrain Grand Prix live!

    F1
  27. Ecclestone happy with V6s if costs controlled 14:55

    Ecclestone happy with V6s if costs controlled

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that he would be happy for the sport to continue using the current V6 turbocharged…

    F1
  28. 14:21

    Starting grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix

    F1
  29. Video: Drivers meet the fans at Sakhir 14:16

    Video: Drivers meet the fans at Sakhir

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Kimi…

    F1
  30. Haryanto secures first GP2 win in Bahrain 13:05

    Haryanto secures first GP2 win in Bahrain

    Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto claimed his maiden GP2 victory during the Sprint Race in Bahrain, passing Julián Leal early on…

    GP2
  31. Bell to make return at Indianapolis 500 11:15

    Bell to make return at Indianapolis 500

    Townsend Bell will return to IndyCar at next month's Indianapolis 500, driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing. Bell has…

    Indy
  32. Video of the Day: Verstappen vs Sainz Jr. 05:12

    Video of the Day: Verstappen vs Sainz Jr.

    Toro Rosso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. go head-to-head in an autograph battle.

    F1
  33. Saturday 18 April 2015

  34. Castroneves takes record Long Beach pole 23:29

    Castroneves takes record Long Beach pole

    Hélio Castroneves will start on pole for tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after breaking the track record in…

    Indy
  35. Daly to replace injured Moran Jr. 20:34

    Daly to replace injured Moran Jr.

    American Conor Daly will fill in for Rocky Moran Jr. this weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Moran Jr., 34, would…

    Indy
  36. 19:54

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday at Sakhir

    F1
  37. Button senses improvement despite problems 19:42

    Button senses improvement despite problems

    Jenson Button is adamant that McLaren is making strides despite the Briton being plagued by problems so far this weekend in…

    F1
  38. Márquez dominates to take Argentina pole 18:57

    Márquez dominates to take Argentina pole

    World Champion Marc Márquez took a dominant pole position after controlling qualifying at the Río Hondo Circuit in…

    MotoGP
  39. Vettel: Ferrari will be closer in the race 18:52

    Vettel: Ferrari will be closer in the race

    Sebastian Vettel is confident that Ferrari will provide Mercedes with an even greater challenge in race conditions in…

    F1
  40. Rosberg says he 'got it wrong' with strategy 18:17

    Rosberg says he 'got it wrong' with strategy

    Nico Rosberg has admitted that he "got it wrong" with regards to his qualifying strategy in Bahrain after ending up third on the…

    F1
  41. First Bahrain pole pleases Hamilton 17:58

    First Bahrain pole pleases Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton was in high spirits after securing his first pole position at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday…

    F1
  42. Vandoorne elated by perfect start 17:42

    Vandoorne elated by perfect start

    McLaren young driver Stoffel Vandoorne says his GP2 season could not have started in better fashion as he followed up pole…

    GP2
  43. 17:09

    Bahrain Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
more news